Saturday, December 14, 2019

Movie with Abe: Seberg

Directed by Benedict Andrews
Released December 13, 2019

There are many people who earn a public reputation and act in a completely different way in private. Merging those two lives isn’t always easy, and pressures from both spheres can lead to difficulties in identity and self-worth. Trying to be something other than what people think you are is rarely easy, and taking risks to find meaning can be made even more difficult when someone who thinks they’re being followed isn’t actually paranoid, made to feel even crazier by the fact that no one believes what they’re seeing when it is in fact true.

On a flight back home from her home in Paris, actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) meets Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), a black activist, and poses for a photo with her arm raised in support of the black power movement. As a result, Jean becomes the focus of FBI surveillance, targeted by analysts Jack Solomon (Jack O’Connell), an eager up-and-comer, and Carl Kowalski (Vince Vaughn), a hardened veteran. Jean begins to see her life unraveling as her extramarital affair with Hakim is leaked to the press and she finds herself increasingly isolated from everyone around her.

This film begins with Jean returning from France to spend time in the United States, without delving much into her history as a star of the French New Wave. It’s a portrait that’s relatively focused on a short period of her life and doesn’t feel like a complete biography. That may be purposeful, but a lot is missing in the creation of her character as someone who existed outside of this story. This film is framed instead as Jean looking out at the world afraid while Jack peers in uninvited, becoming gradually more sympathetic to the subject of his investigation, the only person who can truly understand what it is that she’s experiencing.

Stewart has been making strong movie choices recently with roles in “Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Personal Shopper” alongside big-budget parts in the likes of “Charlie’s Angels,” and this represents another theoretically introspective character that enables her to expand her range. Unfortunately, the film around her flounders and her portrayal isn’t as resounding as it could be. The same is true for O’Connell, who was excellent in “’71” and “Starred Up,” who does his best despite meager material. The ensemble also includes Margaret Qualley, Stephen Root, Zazie Beetz, Yvan Attal, and Colm Meaney, but this isn’t any of their best work. Seberg seems like an intriguing subject, but this picture is far from a formidable tribute.


No comments: